Fair share?

According to U.S. News, the top one percent currently pays about 37 percent of federal income taxes, and the top 10 percent pay about 70 percent. If those figures are too low, what should they be? The bottom 47 percent of households pay no federal income tax at all. Is that their fair share?

Ms. Boyd goes on to complain that big oil companies get government subsidies despite their huge profits. Only they don’t actually get subsidies. They do get tax deductions for business expenses (all companies do) but that reduces the tax they pay on money they earned. It’s not a subsidy from the government. Again, she’s parroting President Obama, but he says “subsidies” instead of “business expense deductions” precisely to mislead people like her.

But what about those huge profits? In the first quarter of 2011, Exxon’s profit was $10.65 billion but it paid $8 billion in taxes. That’s 42 percent of its income before taxes. While that still left a large profit, Exxon reinvested most of it into developing new energy supplies. And before you decide that 42 percent is not their fair share, consider the fact the U.S. already taxes businesses at a higher rate than any other country on earth. On top of that, the after-tax profit that companies pass on to their shareholders as dividends gets taxed again at the individual level.

President Obama will never define “fair share” but we can sure that it will mainly involve people who don’t vote for him and it will always mean paying more than whatever they’re already paying.

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